Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Holiness Strategy

Daily Readings
Proverbs 14 + Numbers 33 + Deuteronomy 26 + Romans 8

Quote of the Day
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our LORD. Romans 8:35-39

Daily Text: Numbers 33:50-56
50 In the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 51Speak to the Israelites, and say to them: When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their figured stones, destroy all their cast images, and demolish all their high places. 53You shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. 54You shall apportion the land by lot according to your clans; to a large one you shall give a large inheritance, and to a small one you shall give a small inheritance; the inheritance shall belong to the person on whom the lot falls; according to your ancestral tribes you shall inherit. 55But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides; they shall trouble you in the land where you are settling. 56And I will do to you as I thought to do to them.

Holiness Strategy
Prior to entering the land, Moses recites every step of the 40 year journey from Egypt to this place on the banks of the Jordan River. It is one of the traditions concerning the route they took and is in conflict with other descriptions [cf. Numbers 14:25, 20:14-21 and 21:4] that had the Israelites at Kadesh not long into the exodus, rather than marching for 38 years before arriving at Kadesh. Deuteronomy 2:1 clearly agrees with Numbers 14:25.
However, Numbers 33 came out of an oral tradition that may well have been preserved for generations before being put in writing. The basics are quite similar.

This recitation of the journey serves to bring the people to the jumping off place into Canaan, and Moses’ instructions are meant to not only preserve the land for the Israelites, but to preserve their faithfulness to the Lord. They are to do three things: 1) drive out the inhabitants, 2) destroy all of the pagan religious symbols, and 3) assign the land systematically to tribal groups with the ability to hold their inheritance. Only by doing these things will Israel be able to continue serving and pleasing YHWH. It is not an unreasonable plan and it harks back to the vision of Balaam that these people are to live alone, to be a separate and holy people.

Marching Song
Naphtali Herz Imber
Translated by Israel Zangwill

Like the crash of the thunder
Which splitteth asunder
The flame of the cloud,
On our ears ever falling,
A voice is heard calling
From Zion aloud:
“Let your spirits’ desires
For the land of your sires
Eternally burn.
From the foe to deliver
Our own holy river,
To Jordan return.”
Where the soft, flowing atream
Murmurs low as in dream,
There set we our watch.
Our watchword “The sword
Of our land and our Lord—“
By Jordan there set we our watch.

Rest in peace, loved land,
For we rest not, but stand,
Off shaken our sloth.
When the bolts of war rattle
To shirk not the battle,
We make thee our oath,
As we hope for a Heaven,
Thy chains shall be riven,
Thine ensign unfurled.
And in pride of our race
We will fearlessly face
The might of the world.
When our trumpet is blown
And our standard is flown,
Then set we our watch.
Our watchword, “The sword
Of our land and our Lord—“
By Jordan then set we our watch.

Yea, as long as there be
Birds in air, fish in sea,
And blood in our veins;
And the lions in might,
Leaping down from the height,
Shake, roaring, their manes;
And the dew nightly laves
The forgotten old graves
Where Judah’s sires sleep,
We swear, who are living,
To rest not in striving,
To pause not to weep;
Let the trumpet be blown,
Let the standard be flown,
Now set we our watch.
Our watchword, “The sword
Of our land and our Lord—“
In Jordan now set we our watch.


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